The supposed existence of an international masonic conspiracy to destabilize Spain was one of the staples of right-wing rhetoric throughout the nineteenth century and the Franco period. The reality was that even during the Second Republic, total numbers in Spain were only around 5,000. These numbers declined drastically during the Franco regime as a result of official persecution, which is estimated to have affected, during and after the Civil War, three times as many people as there were actual members. The Law for Repression of Freemasonry (March 1940) established heavy penalties for membership, or for advocating the benefits of masonic activity. Franco's speeches, up to and including his last public one, a few weeks before his death, reflected his obsession with freemasonry as a sinister international plot against Spain.
   In 1979, following on the legalization of freemasonry by the Supreme Court two years earlier, Spanish lodges were re-founded under the auspices of French masonry, and the independent Grand Lodge of Spain was established in 1982. In 1996, there were reported to be 2,000 adherents of mainstream freemasonry in Spain, plus another 300 members of unaffiliated groups. This compares with 3 million members in the US and 800,000 in Britain. Approximately a third of the membership in Spain consists of British and other foreign residents. Outside the main centres of Madrid and Catalonia, membership is most numerous in areas where British expatriates have settled: the Canaries, Balearics and the south coast, especially around towns like Marbella.
   The Roman Catholic church was implacably hostile to freemasonry until the 1960s, but in the early 1990s the Vatican lifted the ban on church members joining the masons. The Grand Lodge of Spain requires belief in some religion as a precondition of membership, which has helped to smooth over traditional differences. Luis Salat, a former Grand Master, was buried with full Catholic obsequies. The Grand Symbolic Lodge, affiliated to French masonry, has a more secular character, but admits believers and agnostics alike. Unlike the mainstream Grand Lodge of Spain, it admits women, and in May 1997 elected the first woman Deputy Grand Master, Ascensión Tejerina.
   Further reading
   - Ferrer Benimeli, J. (1980) Masonería española contemporánea, vol. 2Desde 1868 hasta nuestros días, Mexico and Madrid: Siglo Veintiuno de España Editores (chapters 5 and 6 cover the contemporary period; there is a useful appendix of relevant documents, and a very full bibliography).
   - Pérez Díaz, S. (1996) "Los masones salen a la luz", El País Internacional, 15 April.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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